Keeping to the People’s Business
It is my mission as Premier to bring about change that makes Bermuda work better for Bermudians.
This can mean passing legislation that expands human rights, it can mean attracting foreign investment to create jobs; it can mean taking steps to protect our most vulnerable.
Our objective is recovery that gets people working again. Our goal over time is to renew Bermuda to make it more fair — achieving social and economic equity, leaving no one behind.
To get there, we are working on many fronts to find and legislate solutions that work for the people.
This past week is an example of what I mean.
Over the course of two days in the House of Assembly, we passed legislation to grow jobs, improve Bermuda's competitiveness and strengthen our system of justice.
On the economic front, we passed a Bill that allows local and exempt companies to purchase high-end residential properties already available for foreign purchase.
We brought forward this change to generate construction-related jobs and to make Bermuda a more attractive and competitive jurisdiction for international business, which is the mainstay of our economy.
We also passed a Bill to finally get the development of Morgan's Point off the ground. The legislation was the culmination of challenging year-long negotiations to replace a development agreement put together by the previous government that was not working.
In another piece of legislation, we eliminated “double-vetting” of company incorporations — a process that was unnecessarily long, unnecessarily expensive and a negative for Bermuda's competitiveness.
The change eliminates double-vetting by law firms and the Bermuda Monetary Authority in favour of vetting by law firms with the BMA having regulatory oversight.
The tabling of the Government's audited Financial Statements for 2012/13 are another positive development for the people's business.
As Finance Minister Richards reported, the 2012/13 statements received the first clean audit in six years.
This marks a return to standards of financial management that people can expect from their government, with accounts finally, properly and accurately reflecting its operations.
Also last week, the Government introduced changes to the Criminal Code that, in effect, allow more scope in sentencing to reflect community values and mores.
The first change gives judges more flexibility to determine the most appropriate sentencing for convicted killers.
The second change creates a sentencing structure to penalise people convicted of a crime who are also members of a gang.
I am particularly pleased by this second change because it is a preventative measure that tells young people not to join a gang; warning them that society will punish them if they do.
All of these advances last week are part of a broad plan to get Bermuda working better for you, your families, your friends and neighbours.
No single measure is going to bring about the recovery and renewal we all want, but taken together over time, with our eyes firmly fixed on the road ahead, we'll get there. Of that, I am sure.